Is God a mental health “professional”?

During SNF Nostos 2023, journalist Panagiotis Menegos engaged in a thought-provoking dialogue with esteemed panelists Michael Niconchuk, Rana Dajani, Sunitha Krishnan, and Sangeetha Thomas. The conversation traversed the complex intersections of mental health and spirituality, the Western incorporation of Eastern philosophies, and the ongoing tension between faith and scientific inquiry.

One of the focal points was the relationship between faith and psychological well-being. Experts explored how religious beliefs and practices can provide solace, hope, and a sense of purpose, which can positively impact mental health.

They also addressed the impact of Westernization on Eastern traditions, and highlighted the potential risks of cultural assimilation and the importance of preserving indigenous practices and beliefs. The commodification of faith and spirituality was also a topic of discussion, raising concerns about the commercialization and appropriation of religious practices.

Speakers recognized that trauma exists on a continuum and that personal experiences can profoundly affect mental health and emphasized the need for sensitivity and compassion in addressing individuals’ unique journeys, understanding that trauma can manifest differently in diverse cultural contexts.

Furthermore, speakers underscored the importance of collaboration between religion and science. They posited that both fields offer valuable perspectives and tools for understanding and addressing mental health challenges. The interplay between ancient wisdom and modern scientific knowledge was encouraged, advocating for an integrated approach that incorporates both traditional practices and evidence-based interventions.

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